Development of awareness is crucial for a martial artist. That is because awareness of ourselves, others, and our environment is the first step in self-defense. By developing a keen sense of awareness, a student of the martial arts will be better equipped to defend themselves, more able to understand the actions and emotions of others, and will have a better understanding of him or herself. Using constant awareness, a karate student is better prepared to acknowledge and handle threats before they occur. That being said, karate should only be used as a last resort, when avoidance is impossible and talking things out will not work.
Awareness of your environment is incredibly important. A busy environment, such as a mall can be a place where you may find safety in numbers, but it can also be a place of distraction with so many people. A quiet environment, such as an abandoned park can be dangerous when no one is around if there is trouble, but it is also much easier to see someone coming when there is no one else around. It is important to know the strengths and weaknesses of your surroundings and how to work with your environment.
Just as it is important to be aware of our surroundings, it is important to be aware of other people. If you know the strengths and weaknesses of other people, you will be better prepared to defend yourself. If a small person needed to defend themselves against a larger, more muscular opponent, they would have to look for their opponent’s weaknesses. Knowing the limits of other people can also help in self-defense. If an opponent does not have stamina, it may be easier to outrun them and get to safety than to stay and fight.
When someone is self-aware, they know their own strengths and weakness. A muscular man might know that he has strength and endurance, but that his balance is lacking. A slender woman could be aware that she has speed and accuracy, but that her power is lacking. Every individual has their own unique strengths and weaknesses and it is important to know what you are good at and what weaknesses you need to work around. This way they will not only be better prepared to defend themselves, but will also have a better idea of where to improve in their training.
Stephanie Rodenhiser is a 4th Degree Black Belt at Buzz Durkin’s Karate School, having trained since she was eight years old. She teaches students of all ages and especially enjoys teaching kids and adults who work hard and develop great outlooks on life.